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The rupture movement by Chinwe Russell

My name is Chinwe russell, I am a Doncaster based artist and today I will be talking about a Mexican art moved referred to as Rupture art. This educational blog is part of the Doncaster art movement project sponsored by Doncaster council’s fighting back fund.

Many artists have already taken part and spoken about various other art movements and we encourage you to Read them. The aim is to help you to understand a bit about art and the rich long history behind it. Now back to the subject of today. The 1950s and 60s in Mexico was a very dynamic time. The war was over, the Mexican revolution was over, the country was rebuilding itself, looking towards the future and looking towards the outside world for influence and inspiration. There were very strong political influences in the arts and the dominant art form was murals. Now Mexican muralism was the promotion of mural painting starting in the 1920s, generally with social and political messages as part of efforts to reunify the country under the post-Mexican Revolution government.



From the 1920s to about 1970s many murals with nationalistic, social and political messages were created on public buildings, starting a tradition which continues to this day in Mexico and has had impact in other parts of the Americas, including the United States. Now the rupture art movement was a reaction against this very dominant and very visible muralist movement. One of the leaders of this movement was an artist called Jose Luis Cuevas, as well as various other artists. At the time, they thought the mural arts had become nationalistic and criticized it as being heavily chauvinistic, simplistic and deferential towards the then government. Perhaps they thought the mural artists had become too nice towards the government.

A sort of sleeping with the enemy you could say. The rupture movement artists rejected social realism and nationalism and instead incorporated surrealism and were more interested in personal issues than social issues. The rejected the rigid restrictions imposed by the government on the arts and sought to break away from that climate. People’s early reaction to rupture artists was strong and negative and because the Mexican government carefully supervised the art venues, they couldn’t exhibit their works anywhere. Despite being ignored by the society, they continued to experiment and challenge the government and the muralist art style, aiming to establish “their creative freedom”. Due to sheer determination and perseverance the Rupture movement took over and by the late 1950’s and 60’s the artists began to exhibit their art works at large venues.




So, Jose Luis Cuevas is considered one of the prominent artists of the rupture movement, along with Pedro Coronel, Gabriel Ramirez, Fernando Garcia and others. A self-taught painter-artist, he was particularly outspoken against the government’s control of the art sector. Most of his art works are drawings of misshapen creatures and misery in the contemporary world. He had his first exhibition in 1953 at the “Galera Prisse” and he also went further to do many other solo exhibitions in Washington DC. He died on July 3rd 2017. In general, the rupture movement was so influential that it reflected in literature and other areas, the artists in this movement managed to change what they saw as a conservative and rigid art imposed by the state and implemented a more flexible approach to art that enabled further development of Mexican art. I hope this has given you a brief insight into this fascinating subject. I wish to thank the wonderful young student Adanma Ibe whose served as my research assistant in creating this work. Thanks to Doncaster Council for sponsoring us and be sure to check out all the wonderful art events which take place in the fascinating town of Doncaster through wonderful art organizations in town.


written by Chinwe Russell

edited and published by Becky Rydel

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